So, your Citizen Space consultation is closed and the results are in and analysed, but what can you do to share the results and outcomes?

Why Share Outcomes?

Most respondents who take part in a consultation want to know that their time is being valued. One of the best ways to ensure that these individuals both want to take part in your consultations and will keep coming back in the future is by publishing the outcomes of the consultation when it has finished. This way you can ensure that your constituents know that you are listening to them.

When respondents know that their participation is being taken seriously they are more likely to get involved in future consultations, as well as encouraging friends and family to take part. They will feel that their individual response has been valued, and, in turn, they will enter into the whole process with a more open and serious attitude.

We Asked, You Said, We Did

One of the features of Citizen Space is the WAYSWD section. This allows you to feed back once the consultation is complete, and lots of our Citizen Space customers use it to good effect. It allows you to quickly remind those who took part what the consultation was about, summarise the general feelings of respondents, and explain what has been done as a result of the consultation.

Many of our customers are already using this feature to keep respondents abreast of what has been done as a result of their feedback. For good examples of how organisations are already using the feature, see the following:

Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Barnet Council

More Detailed Reporting

We Asked, You Said, We Did is great for giving respondents a simple update, but sometimes a more detailed review of the results and outcomes may be required. If you have run a controversial consultation, or one that has involved large numbers of respondents, you might want to give a more detailed report of what was said, and what has and will be done as a result. A number of our customers offer detailed reports after their consultations, and these three are great examples of the different ways in which you can approach a report:

BBC Trust
We Are Camden
Bristol City Council

Reports can range from 5 pages to over 100, and vary in style and substance. Some are very data heavy, publishing large amounts of data that the reader can interpret as they wish. Others are very text heavy, having already extrapolated the data, summarising it and making it more accessible. They vary from very stylised to very functional, very complex to very simple. There are no hard and fast rules for what a report should look like.

One thing is certain: publishing a report doesn’t have to be as excessively arduous or time-consuming as it may, at first, seem. There are plenty of things you can do to make your life easier when you’re trying to break down responses. The “Request Summary Report” feature in Citizen Space allows you to quickly overview the questions you asked and turns qualitative responses into useful graphs and charts. You can also export all of the responses from a consultation in .CSV format, which can be opened in a number of different programs including Microsoft Excel and Google Drive.

Consultation reports do not just benefit stakeholders; they can also help you to reflect on what you are going to do as a result of their participation. The process of writing a report encourages you to consider how the consultation has (or, in some cases) has not changed a policy decision, and how best to tell your stakeholders and constituents what part they have played. Ultimately consultations are all about engagement, and publishing your outcomes can keep stakeholders, voters, and other members of the public involved in the decision-making process.

For more on why consultation analysis is important and why prior planning is key to a good consultation, see Ben’s article on the Democratic Society’s Open Policy Making website.